Have you discovered the magic trick of subtracting? Of simplifying life?

Steve Chandler is the one who pointed me in this direction, and I tell you, that specific pod I’ve listened to over and over again. It’s magic, in all it’s simplicity!

What he suggests is this: Instead of adding more stuff to do, to be happier, to me more successful, to be a better parent, spouse, sibling, son or daughter, co-worker, boss. Well. You name it! Instead of adding – subtract! Subtract the things in your life that turn into musts.

You love the opera? You buy a yearly subscription to all the shows in your local opera house… and all of a sudden, that which you truly love doing, might turn into a must. A bad conscience, something which weighs heavily on you, rather than give you the intended joy.

subtractYou love gardening? Instead of being content with doing gardening in your own garden, you top it off by getting an allotment as well, and then… when you don’t have time to weed, to water, to harvest, it turns from a joy, into a drudge. You mismanage the allotment, and even the garden itself. And it’s gnawing on your conscience. You should! You must! Why aren’t you? And the joy falls away. Even lying down in the grass, enjoying a sunny summer day and a good book, turns into something you avoid, not to be reminded of all the must’s that haven’t been performed.

You love spending time with your kids? Then perhaps, the bed doesn’t have to be made perfectly in the morning when there is such a rush to get everyone ready for the day. Perhaps, you don’t have to have dinner ready when everyone comes home, you can cook together instead. Perhaps, the kids don’t have to have soccer practice, swim meet, gymnastics and guitar lessons every week. Perhaps, you can have a night or two, with no activities, just spending time together. Cooking dinner, playing some cards, reading from a book you all love…

I don’t know. But there is a limit. That I do know. There is a limit to what we can do in a day, and if there’s something else we want to do, then adding on-top of all that which we already do, is very seldom sustainable in the long run. If we subtract, we can make room for what is so often the little things, the things that light up our lifes in the most mundane and beautiful way. That way, when you feel the desire to go to the opera – you buy a ticket and go enjoy the experience to the fullest.

What can you subtract in order to make more room for that lights up your life and brings a smile to your face?

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I share thoughts on how I do gentle, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.